#JanuaryJoy: Have a social media sort out


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Todays prompt is one that I have never really approved of, but the last few months I have really gotten to thinking about social media and how I use it. For example, for some reason, I have found myself on Facebook more recently than I have done for a long time and my conclusion is that I would dearly love to just get rid of it all together. I have 247 friends on Facebook which is a pretty conservative number I think, mainly because I refuse to add everyone who asks me or that I have come into fleeting contact with. Despite this policy, there are still tons of people on there that I barely know. You might be wondering why I keep it at all and there are 2 reasons. Firstly, it’s the only method via which I keep in touch with some friends – the message facility is so convenient and I would miss out socially without it. Secondly, I have to have a personal account to have a business account, i.e. for Florence Finds.

Most of the time when people complain about social media (this is something I hear a lot about Twitter for example,) is that they sap the joy out of you and leave you feeling inadequate. I don’t get that with Twitter, but I do find that the type of status updates people post on Facebook are enough to leave me feeling bored and depressed. All I want from FB is to see how people are doing (i.e. happy life news) and to see their holiday photo’s! One story that has always stuck with me is that of Sam. She told me how she and her husband used to spend time on Facebook instead of actually talking to each other or having real interactions with friends. They agreed to close their accounts and sent all their friends message with their address and phone number, encouraging them to call or pop by next time they missed ‘poking’ them on Facebook, for a real-life holiday photo reel. Of course, they found out who their friends are, but is that a bad thing?

When it comes to Twitter, I’m pretty happy. Because I started my Twitter account for the blog, I have always applied different rules to it. I follow people I am personally friends with and would chat to day to day, some brands, (although not that many,) and I use it a bit like a Google reader type tool, by following bloggers that I read infrequently but want to be reminded of from time to time. As a result I’m seldom bored by my feed and as I read recently via the great communications expert Liene Stevens, ‘If you’re bored of your Twitter feed, who’s fault is that?’ I always used to feel that people who cleared out their Twitter were unnecessarily cruel (not helped by my being signed up to Qwitter, so I know exactly who unfollows me!) but in actual fact, for business or blogging it’s always better to have 10 followers who read and engage with what you are saying than 100 with only a few that do.

My favourite social media though has to be Instagram. I LOVE seeing inspirational photos from other peoples lives and glimpses of different places all around the world. I follow my friends on Instagram and stylish people and bloggers worldwide, and I endeavour to provide the same on my feed, without too much of the mundane. I use it as a way of showing the real life behind the blog, and I guess thats what I want from it too.

So, I have decided I’ll be having a Facebook clear out, watch this space. I’m intrigued to hear your thoughts on social media and whether you feel you should have a clear out. Have you done it? Did you feel better for it? Are you done with Facebook?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Socialista Sista’

Already in the three years that I have been involved in blogging, I’ve noticed a real change in how people use social media. Of course, I already had a Facebook account when I joined the blogging revolution, but I had no idea what a business page was and Twitter was a whole new ball game.


Engaging in conversation and status updates about the new iPhone5 release with readers on my Facebook (right) and Twitter (left) pages yesterday evening

I’ve never been what I would call a Facebook addict but I did tend to check every couple of days and face-stalk peoples holiday pictures, didn’t we all? In sharp contrast, yesterday I uploaded the pictures from a friends wedding and despite me having been to several other weddings and on a few holidays, never mind general ‘life’ it had been over 6 months since I last did the same.

Now my life has been taken over by Twitter. Facebook just isnt the same when it comes to sharing and keeping up to date with news, media oulets like magazines and following celebrity or style icons. All that and it takes care of the majority of my social media exposure for Florence Finds and lets me keep in touch with my ‘blog friends’. Are my everyday friends there though? No. A few of them admit to having an account and who knows if they check it or not, but there’s a really tentative air of fear about them when they discuss it. I remember it. Like I felt before I finally succumbed to Facebook.

From a business or blog point of view, there used to be a very clear demarcation… Facebook was to capture Brides (in my wedding blogging days) and Twitter was for industry. Now, my Facebook followers (all 436 of you) are dwarved by my 1,573 twitter followers. What is interesting however is that they are largely made up of readers rather than industry types. Has there been a shift? I’d say it’s seismic.

I do still see people however who cling to Facebook and use it far more than Twitter, even amongst people who I know have and use both forms of social media. And then there’s the way Instagram seamlessly integrates with both – maybe that’s where all my Facebook albums went, trampled by the instant gratification of boastful over-sharing when you’re somewhere fun/drool-worthy/envy-inducing.

So, today I’d like to hear about your social media strategy, (spoken with a hint of irony.) Do you still use Facebook? Have you joined Twitter yet? And if not, why not? I’m fascinated to hear your thoughts and how you use social media…

Love
Rebecca
xo

Blogging Laid Bare #4: Twitter Tips

In today’s blogging tips I thought it was time we touched on social media and more specifically, Twitter. These tips are primarily aimed at bloggers (or business owners) who want to use Twitter to grow their brand so apologies to my readers who are non-bloggers, though you might find this interesting from a marketing perspective.

I started getting interested in social media for businesses way back in my previous blog role and was an avid reader of Liene Stevens (of Splendid Communications.) I started reading her blog ‘Think Splendid‘ which opened my eyes to not only the possibilities in social media but also the more serious considerations like ethics and regulations, (although these differ in the UK to American laws.) I’m no expert but I’ve broken down my tips today into 2 parts, the first are perhaps more obvious, the second are hard won tricks I picked up from hours of internet research and testing.

First things first though…

  1. Followers. The magic word, everyone wants more followers. We worry when followers aren’t growing, we’re envious of those with more followers than us, but why? I’d encourage any business on Twitter to think about why you want followers. Your followers constitute an extension of your blog community and therefore just like your readers, you want followers who are actively listening to what you are saying and engaged in your content. Otherwise, despite your thousands of twitter followers they won’t click through to your blog links and provide the other thing you’re looking for…
  2. To build traffic. Twitter is a powerful tool to drive traffic to your blog or business. If you have the kind of following described in my last point they will be genuinely excited about your content. The twitter buzz they generate with mentions and retweets gains you extra exposure and new visitors to your site.
  3. To Network. Not just for traffic and kudos, Twitter is great for making new friends and meeting like minded people. No matter how influential a twitter user might be, you can always tweet someone you admire and start a conversation, and at a local or industry contemporaries level it can help introduce you to supportive, knowledgable people you might collaborate with someday or meet at a tweet up!

  • Be positive. Fact, nobody wants to hear you tweet a drip feed of mundane minutiae and gripes unless you happen to be a budding comedian and can put a humorous spin on things. Everyone has a down day but focus on the positives and try to keep moans off twitter. It creates a negative vibe that doesn’t promote interaction.
  • Be gracious. New followers? Say hi! Thank them for following you and see what they’re all about, they may be people you can team up with, guest post for or just chat with. Are people talking to you or about you? Again, thank them. It keeps the lines of communication open and makes you new friends whilst their replies expose you again to their followers.
  • Be persistent. A good general rule of thumb is to tweet each post you write three times. Phrase things differently so you don’t sound like a broken record. For example, say I wrote a post about summer hairstyles, the first tweet might be a basic link and posts title, the second saying something like ‘Is it time for a make-over? Inspiration for beach worthy tresses on @florencefinds this afternoon…’ and the third, ‘Surf style waves or slicked back style, how do you like your holiday hair?’
  • Be varied. Yes, Twitter is for getting your content out there but don’t exclusively promote your own content. Social media is often a way of seeing more of the person behind the blog so include links you have found and enjoyed and content that will interest your readers, perhaps sales you have been alerted to if you write a shopping based site, a great book or a film you’ve just seen. Don’t forget to ask questions – your followers will love to help you out and if you’re out and about doing something interesting, give sneaky peeks behind the scenes of your latest project.
  • Be true (to yourself). Follow people you’re interested in conversing with (i.e. friends and acquaintances,) or interested in hearing about (your favourite shops, bloggers, politician or celebrity would fit in to this category.) Don’t follow lots of random people in the hope they will follow you back. It clogs up your feed and is distracting, aside from often being unproductive (see point 1 above.)

Now for some of the tools I have used to help get that little bit more out of Twitter. You might want better stats on your tweets, to be able to schedule your tweets, or find out more about your followers and who is unfollowing you… read on!

  • Some people say that it’s a thoroughly depressing exercise to watch who is unfollowing you. I say, the more information you have about who is engaging (or disengaging) with your social media streams, the more you can learn from it. I signed up to Qwitter and Twunfollow although I’d recommend choosing one as they largely do the same thing. 270,000 twitter users use the site which sends a weekly email detailing the twitter users who have unfollowed you, including how many followers they have and when they started following you. That makes it easy to see those people who unfollow you because you haven’t followed back and if you’re losing valuable followers who should enjoy your content. It’s also easy to identify the reason for a mass exodus, perhaps a thoughtless tweet or unpopular post. Overall, use it to your advantage and remember, if they’re not interested in what you’re saying, they aren’t the right followers for you.
  • Because I combine Florence Finds with my day job, I can’t devote much time to tweeting nine to five.  I know many of my readers are in the same boat.  One of the first things I looked for was an auto tweeting service. I use Twitterfeed to auto post my new blog posts to Facebook and a WordPress plugin called Twitter Tools for Twitter. Both are easy to use with customisable pre- and suffixes for your links and makes sure your social media followers never miss a post.
  • If you want to take it to the next level, you can use something like TweetDeck to schedule your tweets throughout the day, particularly useful if you’re going to be away from your laptop all day or too busy to tweet from your mobile and want to keep the conversation going.
  • For specific stats, services like Bit.ly provide not only a link shortening service, but a tracking service for each link you share (it integrates with your Twitter and Facebook etc.) giving you hour by hour stats on how many people click your individual links and where they came from.

I hope this has been useful for you readers and please do wade in on the comments if you have anything to add or will be trying out any of the tools I have mentioned. Follow Florence on Twitter @FlorenceFinds and @_RebeccaNorris.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Other blog posts in the ‘Blogging Laid Bare‘ series:

PS. Did you know Twitter recently changed its Trademark and content display policy. This won’t affect most users, but Twitter buttons (on blogs for example) should now show the Twitter bird instead of the previously well used ‘t’.

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